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ABT Gala at City Center

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I guess I'm first, but I don't have my program with me.

The night opened with a snippet from the latest Tudor revival "Offenbach in the Underworld." I have never seen this ballet, which I believe was performed last in New York by the Joffrey around 15-20 years ago. Anybody can correct me. I'm not really sure. First disappointment - Monique Meunier, who was to have danced Mistress of the Carriage Trade, was out. That aside, the scene takes place in a Paris bar with can-can girls and high society slumming. ABT's other new soloist, Veronika Part, looked sweet as the Opera Singer (she only dances a little bit at the end - a few turns). The highlight was the bawdy can-can girls and Olga Dvorevenko as the bar maid (Irina's mother).

Next up was Dancing with Monet - a pair of pas de deux by Kirk Peterson to piano music. They were nicely danced in long 19th century dress by Gillian Murphy/David Hallberg and Stella Abrera/Carlos Molina. Abrera was rewarded for her passionate dancing with cheers by the audience.

Portions of three more classical pas de deux were done in succession -- Grand Pas Classique with Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky, Sylvia pas de deux with Nina Ananiashvili and Marcelo Gomes and Diana & Acteon with Paloma Herrera and Gennadi Saveliev. It was good to see Dvorovenko back on the stage after an injury. She was her usual flirtatious self and brilliante in her fouettes. Ananiashvili stood out for her musicality, but I didn't like her costume (she always uses her own). It didn't match the dusky silvery gray tunic worn by Gomes and had the little puffy sleeves on the upper arm that Balanchine didn't like. Dancing his ballet, she should have left them off. Herrera and Saveliev looked a little mismatched but he brought the house down with some split barrell turns (not sure how else to describe them).

The first half ended with two songs from the George Harrison tribute. I forget the name of the first one, which was choreographed by Stanton Whelch. It had a man dancing in the middle while other dancers walked across the stage a la Robbins' Glass Pieces. Sometimes they'd be holding hands with another dancer or they'd stop and dance a bit. Others would take over the center area and it ended with a kind of circling around by the dancers. They wore rust colored hip-hugging jeans with cut off tops (woman) or tight opened collared shirts (men) in orange. The costumes were not attractive for all the dancers, especially Ms. Part, who is more curvaceous than the other dancers. Michelle Wiles looked best and came off best in her dancing, really letting loose a bit more than some of the others.

A white screen came down, making the stage more shallow and My Guitar Gently Weeps began (choreographed by David Parsons). The dancers began to lose their inhibitions a bit more as they were basically asked to boogey from left to right in pairs, solo or meeting up with a partner in the middle and going off stage with them. Julie Kent, looking like a flower child, stood out, as did Angel Corrella and Ethan Stiefel (with an improved short spiky hair cut).

I was not sure about the Harrison piece when it was announced. Except for a few exceptions, I'm not really sure rock music and ballet mix. Rock music seems to have its own kind of dancing, and we see it in music videos, concert stages and broadway. However, the two bits that were shown Tuesday were not awful...the Parsons suprised me. I'm interested to see the whole work.

After an intermission, a well-done Fancy Free (w/Carreno, Corrella, and Stiefel) closed the evening.

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I went to the Sat. matinee performance.

After a bit of confusion on the programming, there was an insert saying "Grand Pas Classique" was not going to be danced by Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky, it was to be replaced by "Swan Lake pdd" with Dvorovenko & Saveliev, which elicited a bit of a groan from people as they opened they're stagebills. Only to have it announced that Swan Lake pdd was going to be danced by Dvorovenko and Belotserkovsky. Very confusing.

The afternoon started with "The Garden of Villandry" danced by Sandra and Ethan Brown and Carlos Molina.

It was very Gatsby-esque in costume and setting. The men courting Brown as she seemingly waltzed alternatively with them. Not much dancing though, it reminded me of what I do with my nephews, one, two, three, swing... The audience didn't seem to know what to think of it either.

There was a pause and then I was waiting for Syvlia PDD to start, when the strains of Tchaikovsky, started. Oh, Swan Lake was on. I have to say, I'm not a fan of taking a pdd out of a story ballet and performing it alone, I kept waiting for Dvorovenko to hide behind the other swans, but, there were none. It was amazing to realize how much the corps has to do. It was nicely danced by both, though Belotserkovsky's blonde hair was a bit distracting. I never though I'd say that about a man's hair, but sitting up in the tier, it just looked funny. But enough about the man's hair. Dvorovenko's swan was graceful but not frightened enough, but you lose all of those meanings when the piece is taken out of it's entirety.

Next was Sylvia PDD. I was looking forward to this, as I haven't seen it danced in a while. Herrera and Gomes pulled out all the technique they could on this one and certainly woke up the audience. Herrera is an amazing technician, for me, she still lacks musicality, I could practically hear her counting. But she did what was needed for the piece and her feet are the strongest of any dancer I've ever seen. Her balances (and there were many) were flawless as were all of her turns and jumps. Gomes couldn't quite match Herrera's technique as grandly, but he did just fine.n his leg beats were well defined and high.

There was finally an intermission (3 pdd's is too long to make an audience wait) and then the reason I went Symphony in C.

First movement was danced by Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg. I'd never seen Hallberg before (I believe he recently won the Bruhn with Wiles) I had to check my program, initially I thought it was Stiefel (and I mean that as a compliment). I think first movement is the toughest one b/c these dancers set the tone for the rest of the ballet. Murphy was just fantastic, even though she seemed unsure of whether or not she should smile or not smile throughout the piece, again technically perfect. As was Hallberg, he had an infectious energy and beautiful line Anna Liceica and Adrienne Schulte were the demi-soloists, my only issue with them, was Schulte had a big grin on her face and Liceica a frown. It is picky of me, but it's a ballet I've seen so many times, I guess I notice the little things.

Second movement was the veterans. Ananishvilli and Carreno. To see her is to understand what a ballerina is. She continued each and every note through her wrists and her eyes would follow her hands. A beautiful demonstration of continuing the music. Carreno was elegant in his partnering. Out of all of the movements, it's my least favorite, but all held my attention raptly.

And as soon as that ends you're thrown into the whilwind Third Movement. Xiomara Reyes and Angel Corella led the movement. Both had high jumps and fast footwork. Corella's energy seemed to carry everyone else through it. A note on Reyes, I've yet to see her do any character portrayals. I'd like to see her do some of that, she seems to be brought out for the ingenue type parts only.

Which brings us to the former ingenue now budding ballerina, Michele Wiles, who danced the 4th movement with Sascha Radetsky. I thought it to be a mismatch in partners, Wiles is a very tall girl and often you couldn't see Radetsky partnering her, just a pair of black arms. Wiles is a dancer who's graced with long legs, strong feet and looked down at them several times as if to say "I can't believe they're doing this" it was fun. She's young enough for the part, yet strong enough to carry it off.

Seeing all four of the principal women in line at the end was a bit of a timeline. Here's how varied our company is, we have the "she's made it and here she is" dancer in Murphy, the "sophisticated and elegant ballerina" Ananiashvili, "the young ingenue that can" in Reyes and the future of the company in Wiles.

I have to look to see whether or not Bizet was first done at City Center, it looked a bit small on that stage.

All in all a nice afternoon at the ballet. Though I had a good chuckle, when waiting outside for a friend, a young woman in her 20's and her mother (?) passed and remarked "isn't that nice, all the old ladies are going to the ballet".


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Alexandra, thanks for the explanation. So, if I understand it correctly, the difference for "Symphony in C" is that if you double up some corps roles, then there are fewer dancers on stage for the finale?

I wonder if some corps roles were doubled for "Palais de Cristal"- and also, how does the stage of the Palais Garnier compare to that of the City Center?

(Oh, to see the gorgeous finale of "Palais de Cristal" on stage again... )

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First movement was danced by Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg. I'd never seen Hallberg before (I believe he recently won the Bruhn with Wiles)

Sorry that this is off topic, but just to clarify - Hallberg did compete for Bruhn's prize, and danced beautifully, but didn't win. Wiles did, but in male category the prize went to Friedemann Vogel from Stuttgard Ballet. (Of course, not that winning any prize matters that much anyway in arts, and thanks for that wonderful revue Calliope -it felt like I was in the audience:cool: )

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Who might have seen Sun. Eve. perf., on the 20th? Specifically, Dvorovenko in 1st Mvt, "Symphony in C". An absolute revelation! Astonishingly fresh reading of the role! Her playfulness was totally right; it's in Bizet's music. And I loved the way she angled her head in acknowledgment of the partner behind her, maintaining an interaction where the possibility was never considered before.

Amazing how this product of the Soviet system has become such a versatile stylist. Almost everything she touches she makes her own within the parameters of the work and with nary a false note.

Earlier casts had Xiomara Reyes in 3rd Mvt., who insisted on doing double sauts de Basque with great difficulty. Scary how unstable her landings were! Why won't anyone tell her she'd look 100% better doing singles?

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Although there is within me an evil voice which wants Dvorovenko never to rein in her most diva-ish impulses, I was more pleased than I'd imagined possible when she did just that Sunday night. She was much more restrained (well, for her) than Wednesday night, and she certainly has the requisite attack, musicality and grandeur for First Movement. In fact, this was one of the best performances of Symphony in C I've seen for a long time. Certainly the corps has sparkled, and looked a million times better than they did last year.

Reyes' saute de basques were more like one-and-a-half or one-and-a-quarter ones, finishing the rotation with a quick (and not pretty) little catch-up after her landings. Sunday night Murphy (who looked great otherwise) did singles in one direction (to the right?) and doubles to the other. But doubles, whether done by the woman or man (Stiefel and Corella do toss them off rather brilliantly) just don't look right here -- at City Ballet they just do a simple chasse en tournant, and it looks much better. Did they ever do sautes de basque here at City Ballet? Clearly they must have at one point, or why would John Taras include them in his staging for ABT? Yet, also clearly, they've been gone for a long, long time, and not without reason -- the step doesn't really fit in the musical phrase.

(I've seen Reyes do singles and doubles here, and seen them done more prettily, too. Someone should tell her not to bother with them if they're just going to look ragged and incomplete.)

Estelle, the POB doesn't double up in Symphony in C, excuse me, Palais de Cristal. How could they, when the corps for each movement is dressed in a different color? When NYCB first performed Symphony in C (in 1948, I think), they didn't have enough dancers to do the entire ballet without some doubling-up, hence the decision to ditch the colored costumes, and go with white for everyone.

The biggest moment of interest (perhaps an unfortunate choice of words) was Veronika Part's Second Movement. She's a big gal, and clearly out of shape. Lots of wobbles, and there were times it looked as if Molina was about to drop her, although this may say as much about Molina's skill as a partner as it does Part's need for some time on the stairmaster. (I remember Ananiashvili looked much better in Second with Carreno than with Molina.) Part had some soulful moments, but I was reminded how much I preferred Lopatkina's Second Movement when the Kirov did this here in 99.

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Manhattnik, thanks for the explanation about Palais de Cristal/ Symphony in C. I was imagining if it was possible for some dancers to change their costumes between movements, but probably it would be too complicated (and the finale would look a bit awkward)- and anyway, probably in 1947 the POB corps de ballet was large enough to have enough dancers for each part. I didn't know that the change in costumes was because of the doubling up... Actually I like both sets of costumes, it gives different atmospheres to the ballet but both are great. (The only costumes I didn't like were those of the men in an excerpt of video with Allegra Kent in a documentary- I think it was already discussed here- with the bizarre white socks for the men... :D)

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Dvorovenko as a Balanchine stylist. . .

I guess stranger things have happened, but somehow I feel the end of an era. I really treasured her "Miss Piggy" approach to Balanchine. No, she doesn't look like Miss Piggy at all. But her First Movements a year ago seemed to say, "Vous want moi to dance with three other ballerinas? Vous want moi to watch three other ballerinas when moi is dancing? HAAAAAAAIIIIIIIYAH!"

Tell me that's not all gone.

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Leigh, restrained for Dvorovenko would be about the same as Nioradze on her fifth cup of coffee. But Wednesday night she was the only ballerina who was on the music, and last night she toned down the smirks, feral smiles and moues to mere mortal proportions, and looked simply dazzling. However, it was the end of a busy week for her, and doubtless after some rest she'll once again be happily maxing (no pun intended) out the City Center diva-meter.

She's also exactly the sort of dancer Balanchine hated. I can only imagine what he'd have given her to do in NYCB....

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I don't have my old programs with me, but I'm almost positive that NYCB does double up corps roles in "Sypmphony in C"-just two or three though.

Carbro-It looked to me as if Reyes was doing doubles to keep up with Corella. She would start a single and then see him doing a double and throw in a second rotation a bit late, thus the unsteadiness. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only who's not fond of the doubles in Symphony in C-Reyes Corella and Murphy & Stiefel were both of out of synch in their attempts to get doubles in where singles would have looked much nicer!

Dvorovenko was lovely in "Symphony in C "last night!!

Having seen Carlos Molina in "Sin and Tonic", I think the mistmatch in size with Veronika Part was much more the problem than his partnering skills. Last night in "Symphony in C" he was clearly concentrating on the partnering, and there were some strained looking poses, but no real problems in his partnering. I'd fault the person in charge who cast them together-it's not fair to either dancer to be put in a situation like that. Plus, ABT can hardly afford to risk injury to any of it's male dancers!

In contrast, yesterday afternoon, Molina looked very comfortable partnering Paloma Herrera in Kudelka's more modern ballet, "Sin and Tonic". He was relaxed enough with the technical part of the dancing that he was able to get into his character. I don't think Part is too tall for him-she's just a big gal for such a slender guy. However, Molina's long lines may make him look taller than he actually is.

Sascha Radetsky and Michelle Wiles are also mismatched a bit in size, but he did not look at all strained or overly concerned with the partnering. I believe that they trained together at the Kirov Academy, and so have probably danced together for many years. Appearances can be deceiving-Kent and Corella are often paired, and though she is quite tall for him, he always look perfectly at ease with her, and thus the size difference is not so much an issue.


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Sneds, while there certainly was a half-baked look to Reyes' sautes de basque, I don't think it's humanly possible for a dancer to launch into a single and then decide in mid-air to add a second turn. Maybe if your name's Baryshnikov. I think Reyes simply didn't get a lot of elevation on her jump, or snap to her turns. It certainly would've been no surprise to her that Corella (or Steifel, for that matter) would be doing doubles. And damn good ones, too. I suppose we could start up an online petition to send those doubles off to the same retirement home where Kevin has banished Tudor's Romeo and Juliet, but I doubt he'd listen.

It's a man's job to make his partner look good (in ballet as in so many other things), and I don't think Molina is without blame for the weak showings had by Ananiashvili and Part opposite him in Second Movement. It's his job to get her up on her leg for those heart-stopping balances before the big backfalls (which were heart-stopping for the wrong reasons last night), and, while Part often exhibited the stability of a bowl of Jello, it was still Molina's job to get her up there, and keep her up there. Look at how Jock Soto can turn Kistler into a stronger dancer, as if by osmosis. (Part could've used a partner like Soto, although I will bite my tongue before describing any of the visuals which come to mind!) I don't know what you consider a major problem, but, while it's true that nobody actually fell over, there were enough white-knuckle moments to make me file this performance under "P" for Problematic.

Most striking was the moment near the end of the adagio when Part stepped backwards in big, tippy-toe steps and swooned back into the arms of the waiting Molina. Molina caught her and slowed her nicely enough as she fell to near-horizontal, but when he lifted his shoulders to stop her movement and bouncer her back onto her feet, she just kept right on sinking. It took Molina only a moment to make a second, stronger effort, and up Part came, but, shall we say, the magic spell was broken. Well, it can only get better.

And while Radetsky and Wiles got through Fourth Movement in fine form, I wouldn't want to see him partnering her in Second.

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Didn't see the performance, but in all fairness to slight partners, I know what it felt like to be paired with a woman I just wasn't big enough to partner. I was 5'10" and about 155 (not a little guy) but she was about 5'8" and maybe 115 or 120. It's not that she was overweight, or difficult, but I just didn't have the bulk to save her if something wasn't working. She needed someone about four inches taller than me. I had always prided myself on my partnering and I loved it, so it was very frustrating.

As for deciding about jumps in mid-air? Damien Woetzel. I really think he does.

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I've never noticed Dvorovenko pushing herself forward as first among equals. But am I the only one to notice, after NYCB performances of such as Liebeslieder, Serenade, Bizet, Divert 15, etc., how Darci always waits until all the other leads were on their knees to begin her bow, and then rises particularly slowly? Tsk, tsk!

As for Ananiashvili looking better with Carreno than Molina, well, as a sentient woman (and not to take anything away from Molina), all I can say is "Duh!":rolleyes:

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Man, I post, then remember something else. Oh, well. Sorry, all.

It appeared to me that Part was pretty nervous last night, especially after she/he/they botched the grand fouette, and I wouldn't be surprised if her nerves were contagious, wiping out any confidence Molina may have had as well as her own.

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Dancing aside, I'd take Molina over Carreno :D)

Anyway, comparing Molina and Carreno is not really fair because Carreno has had years more dancing experience and is much more solidly built (perhaps it would have been better to switch Carreno and Molina in Symphony in C).

BTW, is Molina actually 26 or 27, as I read somewhere??-he looks much younger.

I didn't think that Part looked perturbed on Sunday night, but I'd agree that there were more than a few white knuckle moments. Again, Molina looked MUCH better in "Sin and Tonic" with Paloma Herrera, which leads me to believe that with Part there was just a huge mismatch.

BTW, I'd agree with Leigh on Damien Woetzel. Sometimes you can almost see him thinking mid-air.


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Just to clarify:

I love Jose largely for the way he coaxes his ballerina along, whether or not she needs it. He always tries to engage her in a shared experience, sort of saying, "I'm having the time of my life. I just love being up here with you, and I want you to feel the same." Usually, that will cause his partner to open herself up to the moment, feel freer to be spontaneous and dance with an extra measure of energy and joy.

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Just a gentle reminder....it's a new season, and perhaps it's a good time to reread this post by rkoretzky, "A Word to the Wise."


We try to preserve a distinction on this board between frank opinion and mean-spirited remarks -- even those made in the spirit of dazzling wit. I doubt they would seem so witty if you're the victim of them, and at least five comments on this thread have made me wince.

Dancers read these boards. The companies read these boards. And more importantly, even if we're the only ones who read them, dancers are people with feelings. Please keep that in mind.


Alexandra Tomalonis

Director, Ballet Alert! Online

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Well, I'll own up to being too harsh on Part. She was out of shape -- alarmingly so in places -- but she also had an appealingly dramatique way of plunging herself into each big pose and holding back nothing, which was commendable and brave indeed as she surely knew that her technique that night was unreliable, to put it mildly. She has something of Farrell's intensity, and something of Farrell's mannerisms, such as the "hands-parting-invisible-cobwebs" gesture I remember so fondly.

Part could've said, "Screw this, I'm phoning the rest in," but she didn't hold back, even when this honesty brought her close to disaster in the big pirouette to the knee in Fourth Movement.

I will admit that I preferred Lopatkina's ice-princess Second Movement to Part's more florid one three years ago when the Kirov did Symphony in C here, and Part has never been one to impress with great technical strength in even the best of times. But I think when Part gets back in shape she could be a very special dramatic dancer indeed.

I've been picturing a Meunier/Part Symphonie Concertante, but I've been having more fun picturing a Meunier/Dvorovenko one. Let's just hope we get something more than a Meunier/Part Moyna and Zulma.

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I saw the Oct. 20 evening show, which included the complete George Harrison ballet. Please redirect me if the following should be a new topic; as you can see I'm a new member.

I thought the two Georges were a surprisingly good match. Balanchine and Harrison were both men who never sought the spotlight even at the height of their celebrity. They both demonstrated to the American public that sexual love and the love of beauty on the one hand and the love of God on the other were not as incompatible as the Puritans lead us to believe. Ballet is the perfect vehicle for depicting this refinement of the flesh. Within You Without You is a balletic examination of five aspects of love and spirituality that I found both enjoyable and thought provoking.

In "Something" I liked the irony of Angel Corella dancing all the 360 degrees of infatuation while the object of his affection stood inert facing upstage. "Guitar" was deliciously sexy. In "Within you without you" a bright overhead spotlight and a black backdrop made Mr. Cornejo's striking physique dematerialize onstage. the line "With our love, we could change the world" is as succinct an expression of a dancer's role as I can think of. Divorcing this lyric from the heavy handed Lennon-McCartney counterpoint "when I get older" that it's been glued to there on the album for thirty years is a revelation in itself.

It was an evening I will never forget.

That said, I did not find myself sharing Ms Kisselgoff's enchantment with the finale, "My Sweet Lord". I felt it snatched tepidity from the jaws of triumph. Seeing the choice of music I anticipated a rousing crowd mover, a sort of hippie "Wade in the Water". Instead, the composition seemed to owe a great deal to the influence of those news banners that crawl along the sides of buildings in Times Square or the stage treadmill used to imply travel to Padua in "Kiss Me Kate".

And then there was the fleeting blurry projection of George Harrison's face. To me the image created was 30% Big Brother 20% Heere's Mickey! and 50% Shroud of Turin. Am I way off base here?

Can anyone tell me why the order of the ballets was reversed from what was in the program?

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I was told the order was changed for Sunday's performance because the company felt the Harrison piece is more of a closer. And the Swan Lake pas de deux was put on in place of the Grand Pas Classique the balances of the later ballet put too much stress on Dvorevenko's formerly injured leg.

I agree with Manhattnik, Dvorevenko looked a lot more "Balanchinian" in the first movement on Sunday night than she had earlier in the week. Gillian Murphy was exceptionally strong in the first movement, but was really high-flying with Stiefel in the third movement on - I forget which night - Saturday mat. I think. The energy level really rose when they came on.

My two cents on the parallel moves in the third movement is that it should be together. Whatever is done, should be done together or made to look similar.

Part did seem nervous (there was a moment when she was standing in the back furiously licking her lips and looking worried), but at Manhattnik pointed out, she did have some lovely moments, such as those gorgeous lifts and the way she parted the air with her hands. And her nervousness might have contributed to Molina's partnering mishaps (I mean, they would have been rehearsing together, right. And if things weren't going well, the coaches and the director most certainly would have changed things). He's young and might not have the experience partnering-wise in every situation. I remember he did a very good job with Jaffe last year, but she was a veteran. However, when Part danced on her own, she was very fine, especially in the series of pirouettes - maybe the best I've seen them done at ABT. I loved her in the role in 1999, and hopefully tonight things will be more comfortable for her.

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